I love a gel manicure. I love the clean way my nails look (and my life feels) when they’re polished. And I really love not having to worry about chips and dings. But I also have paper-thin nails. And although scientists aren’t quite sure why, gel manicures wreck them. After two weeks of nail heaven, I’m left with onion-skin nubs that peel, break, split and take months to re-grow normally. Usually, I’ll take a breather, get sucked back in, and start the cycle again.
Which is a long way of saying I’ve tried a lot of alternatives to gel manicures. I’ve tried the at-home versions that come with polishes, top coats and a UV-light. They work—but IMHO, they’re tedious, and they still destroyed my nails. I’ve tried the top coats that say they’ll give you that cushiony finish and 14-days of wear (they don’t). And then I tried Sally Hansen Miracle Gel ($10), the nail skies parted, and I haven’t used another product since.
What It Is
The collection launched last September and consists of 61 shades (above, the most popular 5) and a top coat. Here’s how it works: You paint your nails. Then you wait five minutes. Then you add the top coat. Then you parade around for two weeks with nails that look and act like they’ve been gel manicured. When you’re ready to take it all off, any acetone-based remover will do. (No scratching, soaking, or scraping like salon gel manis.) Even better? Your nails aren’t ruined. Like at all.
How It Works
Both the polish and the top coat contain a polymer which gives the manicure that rounded, voluminous look. And the top coat also contains a photoinitiator that’s activated by natural light to enhance the bond between the color and the top coat. Over time, the formula continues to cure, which means the manicure actually gets more durable the longer you wear it.
At the risk of sounding like LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow, you don’t have to take my word for it. I saw an editor friend wearing the perfect red/orange mix, Redgy, and went to the drugstore to try it out. Sold out. So I went to the drugstore three blocks away. Also sold out. That’s when I emailed the PR girls and asked for my own set. They also told me that, according to IRI, a data collection firm, Miracle Gel is the biggest launch in color cosmetics recordable history, with sales exceeding $100 million dollars in the first year alone.
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel is the closest thing I’ve encountered to an actual manicure miracle. If you’re intrigued, give it a try. If, that is, you can find it in stock.